Delegated powers - a guide to who decides planning applications

How your application is determined

Cornwall Council operates a scheme of delegation which sets out the range of decisions that designated planning officers can make on behalf of the Council, the majority of which, do not need to be referred to a Planning Committee.

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Delegated decisions are considered by the case officer who outlines the recommendations and reasons in a delegated report, which is checked by a designated officer before a decision is agreed and issued.

The majority of planning related applications are dealt with under delegated powers and it is the intention that at least 95% of applications received are determined this way.

In cases where authorised officers do not use their delegated powers; consideration is given to issues raised by local Members and local councils. There are protocols in place for both local Members and local councils which provide an opportunity to influence the outcome of the planning application process.

Due to the size of the County, the planning and sustainable development service has been divided into three areas. Each area has an associated Planning Committee that deals with referred applications within its boundary. The committees are:

Applications are reported to the area based Planning Committee in-line with the Council’s Constitution.

Applications will be dealt with under delegated powers unless:

  • It falls within the responsibilities of the Strategic Planning Committee (see below) or
  • That a written request has been made by a Local Member for a particular ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’ application to be considered by the relevant Area Planning Committee and sound planning, policy and other area reasons have been provided setting out why committee consideration is necessary; or
  • An application is made by an elected Member or a senior officer of the Council, or a close relation of either of such persons. For these purposes a close relation is defined as a spouse, partner, sibling, parent or offspring and a senior officer is deemed to be Head of Service and above in all services except the planning and sustainable development service where it includes all officers of Group Leader status and above in development management. Any request for determination by any other officer of the planning and sustainable development service can only be agreed by the Head of Planning and Sustainable Development
  • If approved, the matter would represent a significant departure from the approved policies of the Council (officer delegation is still permitted if the departure from policy would not conflict substantially with the aims and objectives of the policy or the application is to be refused). For these purposes significant departures are defined as a development which consists of or includes the provision of (i) more than 150 houses or flats; or (ii) more than 5,000 square metres of gross (measured externally) retail, leisure, office or mixed commercial floor space; or
  • Any ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’ application relating to the Council’s own land or development where representations have been received against the proposal.

The Strategic Planning Committee tend to deal with applications of Countywide, importance such as:

  • large scale major developments of about 200 dwellings (or 4 hectares) on unallocated sites;
  • commercial developments of 10,000 square meters (or 2 hectares);
  • the production of 5 Megawatts of power; or
  • strategically important developments (as identified by the Head of Planning and Sustainable Development or his nominated representative in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the area in which the development is proposed).